Minus one starter for most of the game Tuesday, the Wapakoneta Redskins turned a constant double-digit deficit in the first half into a competitive game early in the fourth period.
After holding a commanding lead throughout Tuesday’s game, the visiting New Knoxville Rangers saw Wapak reduce its deficit to two possessions but they found their way in the fourth period, scoring 30 points in the final stanza, to record a 77-65 win in a non-league varsity boys basketball contest.
Losing by 12 at halftime, 40-28, Wapak outscored NK 13-7 in the third period, the game’s lowest-scoring stanza Tuesday.
Adam Henderson sank a 3-pointer with 2 seconds left in the third period to put the score at 47-41 in favor of NK entering the final period.
New Knoxville benefitted from Wapak increasing the tempo as well as the bonus foul situation throughout the fourth period Tuesday.
The Rangers tallied 30 points in the fourth period after scoring just seven in the third, as they finished the game with 29 makes on 37 free-throw attempts.
“Wapak did a good job of attacking the basket in the second half,” New Knoxville coach Kort Fledderjohann said. “Defensively we let up a little bit. They’ve got some quick guards and used their two big guys and took advantage of our lack of size.”
NK led by 10 points after the first period, 20-10, and by 12 at halftime, 40-28, benefitting from prolific outside shooting in the first half Tuesday.
In one stretch overlapping the first and second periods, six straight NK made field goals were 3-pointers.
“In the first half we came out with pretty good flow,” Fledderjohann said. “We actually hit some shots. I think if you look back at our losses the last couple of weeks we have one half where we shoot good and we have one half where we’re below 30 percent and really struggle.”
Wapak varsity coach Doug Selvey explained why NK established such a large lead so quickly in Tuesday’s contest.
“It was us as a coaching staff not having the kids ready to play at the beginning of the game. It was my fault for not having them ready to play.”
Wapak junior starting guard Keaton Metz left Tuesday’s game late in the first period with an injury.
Metz exited the game after having scored two quick field goals in his brief time on the floor.
Selvey described Metz’s injury status and commented on how Metz’s absence impacted the team.
“He got kneed in the quad(ricep). He’ll get some ice and rest. We’ll see,” the coach said. “”He’s game-changer, an athlete and our best defender, too. When you take away that on both sides, it’s tough.”
Four players reached double digits in the scoring Tuesday for NK.
Ryan Lageman led the Rangers with 19 points, 13 in the fourth period plus three 3-pointers.
Isaac Kuntz added 14 points, Shane Topp had 13 including three 3-pointers and Andrew Arnett scored 12.
The Redskins’ bench players accounted for 38 of Wapak’s 65 points Tuesday.
One of those bench players, Sam Hinegardner was the team’s leading scorer with 13 points.
Henderson posted nine points.
Also off the bench, Aaron Huffman added eight points, Jake Bruns had seven and Zach Schmerge scored six.
Wapak moved to 1-10 overall with Tuesday’s loss, which was its seventh consecutive.
In their previous four losses entering Tuesday’s game the Redskins were losing by an average of 28.5 points per game.
Although they still lost by 12 points Tuesday, the Redskins came much closer to winning than they have since their last win, which was exactly one month ago, Dec. 14 against Minster.
Selvey explained what positives came from Tuesday’s game.
“I thought we scored pretty well,” he said. “We realized some mismatches and got some scores we needed to have. We put points on the board but now we have to go do that against a (Western Buckeye League) school.”
The coach explained how the team can apply Tuesday’s effort to future games.
“It’s getting that confidence on offense,” Selvey said. “I wish we could get it on both sides, both offense and defense. That’s what I wish for the kids right now. It’d be good for our basketball program.”
The Redskins will continue their WBL schedule Friday in their next game with a trip to Celina to face the Bulldogs.
The Redskins handily won the junior varsity game Tuesday with a score of 71-44.
Will Hinegardner led Wapak with 18 points, which included three 3-pointers.
Ethan Good added 14 points, while Cameron Lauck scored 12 for the Redskins.